This week the media was flush with stories on the 50th Anniversary of the U.S. “embargo” of Cuba. From the New York Times to USA Today, most are running AP and Reuters stories (from Havana) which begin and end with quotes from “academic experts” deploring the “embargo” as “failed,” “archaic,” “cruel,” “political pandering to Republican Cuban-Americans,” blah, blah.
First off, a totalitarian regime bestowed both Reuters and the AP with press bureaus. There was a day when Americans understood what this implied. For those who’ve forgotten here’s Vicente Botin, who reported for Madrid’s El Pais from Cuba for years. “The Castro regime assigns 20 security agents to follow and monitor every foreign journalist. You practice self–censorship or you’re gone.”
And lucky for those foreign journalists. Because local Cuban journalists don’t get off so easily. They don’t get a discreet little note saying, “Dear foreign journalist, We need to talk. It appears that you have forgotten the code of conduct we so clearly stipulated upon your arrival in Cuba and the agreed-upon subject matters for your reporting. So let us remind you of these two:
1.) The diabolical Yankee blockade of our innocent little nation which makes us the world’s poster child for victims of wanton bullying. 2.) Our munificent and magnificent Health Care and Education, which makes us the world’s beacon of social-consciousness and charity.”
Cuban journalists who side-step the above in order to expose human-rights violation (by a regime that surpassed Stalin’s rate of political torture and jailings) can’t then tuck their tail between their legs, scamper onto a plane and zoom off. They can’t courageously grimace and shake their fists behind them-- after they’re 2000 feet aloft and 500 miles distant from Castro’s KGB-trained police.
Instead, a Cuban journalist who forsakes self-censorship gets grabbed by this KGB-trained police and thrown in a torture-chamber. In fact, according to “Reporters Without Borders” (headquartered in Paris, not Miami) Cuba jails journalists at the highest rate of any nation on earth. Stunningly, the total number of journalists jailed in Cuba (a nation of 11 million) is only slightly behind that of China (a nation of 1.4 billion!)
With this datum in mind let’s revisit what some of America’s swankiest journalist and Media Moguls have to say regarding the world’s top jailer and torturer of journalists:
“Fidel Castro could have been Cuba’s Elvis!” That’s multiple-Peabody and Emmy award- winning Dan Rather. (And yes, CBS has a Havana News Bureau.)
Humberto Fontova holds an M.A. in Latin American Studies from Tulane University and is the author of four books including his latest, The Longest Romance; The Mainstream Media and Fidel Castro. For more information and for video clips of his Television and college speaking appearances please visit www.hfontova.com.